I Don’t Usually Read Books About Cancer . . . . (by Judy)

September 5, 2011

but I’m very glad that I just read Not Done Yet: Living Through Breast Cancer by Laurie Kingston, author and blogger at Mothers With Cancer (with me and other moms with cancer) and her own blog, Not Just About Cancer.

I don’t typically read books about cancer basically because I’m living it and I get enough of it that way. Well, more than enough. However, Laurie’s blog-to-book about her diagnosis, treatment of her cancer, remission, and recurrence only a few months after she went into remission is quite the good read, and I’m happy I read it.

Laurie is a beautiful writer, and this book is no exception. Told in a succinct, readable style, Not Quite Done Yet goes over the lows and highs of a life with cancer. Of life, really, as most of us have our own particular burdens that we live with, whether it’s cancer or something else. I could relate to so much of of what’s in the book. Laurie has an amazing attitude about life and cancer and it shows through her book. I don’t want to ruin the book for new readers of it, but rest assured that it is an authentic look at life, first with breast cancer and then with metastatic breast cancer. Throughout it all, Laurie’s voice shines through clearly, showing that life can indeed be beautiful even if someone has this dreaded disease. I’m drawn to Laurie’s description of her own blog which is also a succinct, honest expression of what she has lived through and her life now:

What happens when you are 38 years old, write for a living and are diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer? Well, if you’re me, you start a blog. When the cancer spreads to your liver? Keep writing. When the “spectacular” happens and you learn that tumours have disappeared? Turn it all into a book. And you go on living your life. Because life is good.

Life is indeed good as is Laurie’s book. I loved this read, and I’m grateful to Laurie for sending me the book. Thank you, Laurie, not just for the book but for your articulate insights, your honest story, and your continuing to live a full life. You’re an inspiration to many, I’m sure; I know you are one to me.

Cross-posted to Just Enjoy Him.



August 17, 2009

Perseverance: True Voices of Cancer SurvivorsOne of the hardest parts about getting a diagnosis of cancer is the isolation you feel. Sure, I knew there were many, many people who were going through (and still are) treatment for various cancers, many of which were much more serious than my own. Still, there are moments when I felt all alone.

When I received a copy of Perseverance: True Voices of Cancer Survivors by Carolyn Rubenstein, I quickly realized it was full of stories of young adults who also felt that isolation of a cancer diagnosis. Perseverance is a collection of essays told by twenty college age kids about how they survived childhood cancer. The essays were compiled by the author, who during her own teenage years founded Carolyn’s Compassionate Children a non-profit organization that provides emotional and financial resources to childhood cancer survivors.

These kids tell their personal stories of scary diseases, long treatments, painful biopsies, surgeries and even transplants. Like Jamie Saunders, who underwent a year and a half of chemotherapy treatments after being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma as a high school freshman. Or Rob Dooley, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor the day before his twentieth birthday. These are harrowing stories of hardship some of us will never know and yet these kids have hope for the future.   

Emily Corwin writes about starting treatment for cancer:

“I saw five-year-olds laughing and smiling who were so sick. If they could do it, I could do it.”

Or Henry Choi:

“I now appreciate every single bit of life, and I think of challenges as ways to make me stronger.”

In the end, Perseverance is a book full of touching stories, told in unique voices, and leaves us with the feeling of hope and more importantly, that we as cancer survivors are not alone.

Perseverance is on sale August 18, 2009.

Cross posted over at my book blog Stephanie’s Written Word

Book Review – The Middle Place

February 25, 2009

The Middle PlaceKelly Corrigan had a good life. In her mid-thirties, she was in a good marriage, had two young beautiful daughters and led a happy existence. Her world turned topsy-turvey in August of 2004 when she found a lump in her breast. She started chemotherapy right away, handling the side effects (including loosing her hair) with grace. Then, right before Thanksgiving and almost at the end of her own treatment, her mother calls to tell her that her beloved father George has been diagnosed with cancer.

Corrigan’s memoir is the story of her own journey to becoming a breast cancer survivor and it is also a love letter to the man who shaped the woman she became – her father. Each alternating chapter Kelly writes about her childhood in Philadelphia with her mother, two older brothers and her loving, bursting with personallity father George “Greenie” Corrigan. The Middle Place, which the title references, is the time in which the author found herself a successful wife and mother of two and the fearful, childlike daughter of George and Mary, right between adulthood and still being someone else’s child.

And that’s what this whole thing is about. Calling home. Instinctively. Even when all the paperwork – a marraige licence, a notarized deed, two birth certificates, and seven years of tax returns – clearly indicates you’re an adult, but all the same, there you are, clutching the phone and thanking God that you’re still somebody’s daughter.

It was easy for me to relate to Ms. Corrigan, since there are a number of similarities between her own life with cancer and mine. Both virtually the same age at diagnosis with the same type of breast cancer (Invasive Ductal Carcinoma) I also have two young daughters and have had to adjust to life with cancer as a young woman and mother. I started this book early one morning and devoured it within the day. I just couldn’t get enough of the loving way Kelly wrote about her father, or how she explained her honest feelings about having cancer.

There were many passages in the book that were touching, funny and very sweet. Like when Kelly told her mom that she had cancer:

I know her job is to keep me from harm. After all, I am a mother now too. I know what it is to want to safeguard your children. It starts with the first prenatal vitamin and it never ends. Safety gates, life vests, fire drills, swim lesson, CPR. And still, one day, the kids you’ve been so careful to protect might call to say she has cancer.

Or when she decides to send out an e-mail to her friends and family about her progress with treatment:

I send out an e-mail, tinkering with every sentence. It has to be upbeat so people won’t worry too much and funny so they won’t be scared to write back. It’s a big job, being the first person your age to get cancer.

I could have written that paragraph myself. Or maybe this paragraph, which brought me to tears, talking about her friend Jen who had just lost her mother (have just lost my own mother last year, it was especially touching):

 When I called Jen to check on her, she told me that people were swarming around doing what people do: flowers, food, cards, calls, favors. She said just about everyone said something like, “Your mom had a good life. She had a lot of happiness. She was so uncomfortable. Now she’s at peace.” Well, yeah, okay, good for your mom. But what about you? What about your peace? Your comfort? Who’s gonna remember what you were for Halloween that year or the name of your fifth grade teacher? Who’s gonna loan you money to buy your first house or cry when your baby is born? Who’s gonna sit in the front row of your play?

Lastly, the author writes about her reaction when told by her oncologist that her treatment would put her in early menopause, therefore unable to bear any more children:

They talk about cancer like it was something to get through, to treat, to beat. They never said it was going to change everything, all my plans, and take things away from me that I have wanted since I was a child. They said it was going to be a bad year. So doesn’t that mean that when the bad year is over, when you do everything, when you do everything you are told to do – and with a goddamn smile, no less – you get to go back to the life you had?

The Middle Place has been released in paperback recently and you can find out more about the book and the author at her website.

Cross posted at Stephanie’s Written Word

Blog Book Tour

December 28, 2008

My life has been so richly blessed by those I’ve met along this journey.  It has certainly been the light in my darkness.  A few weeks ago a man emailed me asking if I would host a day during his book tour.  His wife died a few years ago from a very similar breast cancer and the book is a memoir of their life together.  He has sent me a book and it’s such a beautiful way to celebrate and honor her life (I’m having a hard time putting it down…..but I do need to sleep!).    I’ve never hosted a book tour but I’m excited to give it a try.  Here’s a link to Chad’s blog site “The Moutray Chronicles”  Here’s a link to the book tour in case you’d like to check out some other blogs along the way.  I will be hosting on January 22nd.  You can also buy the book at Lulu.com

Women Of Silence…

June 14, 2008

I came across the book, which the poem I am about to share with you came from, via my mother meeting the amazing woman that wrote it! She wandered into my mums office one day and explained to mum who she was. They got chatting and of course mum talked with her about my journey as it was similar to hers in many ways. Grace was very interested as she had actually been through an ileostomy (even though the book leans towards breast cancer), so she was really understanding, sweet and kind. She had a copy of her book in her bag so she gave it to mum and asked her to pass it on to me with her love and blessings.

Mum gave me the book a few days later and I popped it on my bookshelf and thought I would get around to reading it ‘someday’ but I wasn’t really, truly all that interested as it was (so I thought) for women with breast cancer which I don’t have. The book sat there for quite a few months and then, one evening, I was desperate for something to read and that was the only book on my shelf at that time that I hadn’t yet read so I picked it up….and didn’t put it down again until I had finished it. It was such a great read. So inspiring. Grace Adamson is a truly remarkable woman! So the poem I am about to copy below touched me so very deeply it made me cry (which actually did me some good because I don’t cry easily). I have shared it before on my blog but it was before I was told my cancer was back, so my blog at that time was more about scrapbooking and stuff. Anyway I thought I would share it here in the hopes that it touches somebody else the way it did me.

Woman Of Silence

Woman of silence, gentle and strong,
Tell me your path, where it first went wrong.
Tell me your story, how you’ve coped with your life.
Tell me about all the trouble and the strife.

I see how you’ve coped, withholding the pain,
I feel your soul weeping and yet you refrain
From sharing your losses, your grief and your fears
But you know, they multiply over the years.

Until one day your inner wisdom says “no more”.
And you awake with an illness, a fiery core
That’s fuelled by a lifestyle out of control,
Too much held too often has taken its toll.

It’s time to rethink, reassess how it’s been
And develop a strategy previously unseen.
There is a way to heal with heart and great passion.
Let go of withholding that was always your fashion.

Nurture yourself and make yourself whole.
Live your life fully and realize your goals.
Women of Silence, gentle and strong,
Find the courage to heal, and to sing your heart’s song.

I hope it moved somebody as it did me. Take care.